Wyclef Jean on Mistaken Identity Detainment: “I was scared for my life..”


Wyclef Jean is known as many things, a Rapper, Actor, Author and even filed for candidacy for the presidential election of Haiti in 2010. But recently Wyclef Jean, a musician who has been in the industry respectively for over 20 years, was detained by Police after a “Mistaken Identity” situation in Los Angeles. For six whole minutes, Wyclef was handcuffed and questioned for a robbery that happened on March 21. It has been reported that Wyclef whom was travelling with two women, one being his manager was pulled over because the vehicle that he was travelling in matched the vehicle used in the armed robbery. On top of the matching vehicles, Wyclef was wearing a red bandana that the alleged robber was also seen wearing. According to TMZ, One of the women in the car decided to step out of the car abruptly, while Wyclef reached towards his waistband, probably reaching for his wallet to show identification.


My question is HOW DID THESE OFFICERS NOT RECOGNIZE WYCLEF JEAN FOR BEING WYCLEF JEAN? Anyone in their right sense of mind, even if they don’t listen to hip-hop music should be able to identify Wyclef for being a celebrity. But instead of asking for identification, they decided it was best to handcuff this man for six minutes to “straighten out” the issue of mistaken identity. Wyclef took to his twitter with a tweet that he later deleted, speaking out of the outrage of what happened to him. “LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but I’m in handcuffs?


“Deputies followed that vehicle (that Wyclef was in) briefly before the vehicle pulled over along the 700 block of West Knoll Drive, apparently reaching its intended destination. As deputies approached the vehicle, [two of] the occupants — driver and front passenger — almost simultaneously began to exit the vehicle. It was at this time that the deputies attempted to detain who they believed to be the suspect of the violent crime, Mr. Jean. Due to the violent nature of the call, [an] armed robbery; the similarity of the suspect vehicle to Mr. Jean’s vehicle; the time of day of the unfolding detention; and Mr. Jean’s furtive movements and demeanor, he was handcuffed. It is reported that Mr. Jean’s furtive movements included actions such as: once he exited the vehicle, he started to walk towards the trunk of the car, questioning why he could not get his things out of his trunk, even though he was clearly instructed by deputies not to approach the trunk. Mr. Jean was also ordered several times not to place his hands near his pockets or his waistband. Out of an abundance of caution, a pat down search for weapons was also conducted of Mr. Jean’s person, and he was subsequently secured inside the backseat of a patrol vehicle.Within approximately six minutes, deputies confirmed that Mr. Jean and the female driver were not the suspects in the armed robbery.” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said.

The statement sound more as though they were justifying what they have done. Justifying the fact that they mistakenly identified Wyclef as this armed and dangerous robber and handcuffed him. Noted that a short time later another vehicle that fit the description of the vehicle described in the robbery was spotted approximately four blocks from where Wyclef was held. The suspect was picked up in a 1995 tan/Gold Acura with paper plates, meanwhile Wyclef was stopped in a 2002 tan Toyota with Michigan plates. The LAPD has since apologized to Wyclef for the detainment after, Wyclef described the event as “being treated like a criminal” by law enforcement officials. Wyclef stated that wants the Black Lives Matters involved in his wrongful detainment investigation, although he doesnt’t believe it is just a race issue.



Wyclef Jean appeared on the Good Morning America to talk about his ordeal that had him “scared for my life”. “This is bigger than a Black-and-white issue,” Jean told “Good Morning America” Wednesday, March 22. “After I got out the car, automatically … I got my backpack on, I’m coming from the recording studio, I’m automatically rushed. When I’m rushed, guns are drawn, which is the part that you don’t see.” Wyclef further explained that he said he would “sue the LAPD” because he wasn’t told that it was the sheriff’s department and not the Los Angeles Police Department that was handling him. He also said he wasn’t told why he was being detained before being handcuffed and placed into the back of the cop car.

“I feel that I was targeted as a Black man. It’s clear and it was obvious because when I was getting out of the car and the way that the cops rushed me, the conversation that I was having with them, it was a silent and a deaf conversation. So, as a citizen, I feel that it’s only right that if I’m telling you my name and who I am, it only takes a second with the technology that we have to basically press a button and Google say, ‘This is Wyclef Jean.’ ”

It is sad that events like this is still going on in 2017, especially when there have been so many people who has lost their lives due to mistaken identity situations. Moments when the Officers at hand are trained to handle things with the caution of protecting themselves and keeping from being harmed, they are potentially scarring, harming and killing innocent people. I could only hope that this is a situation that doesn’t take place again, but with the percentage of police brutality that has taken place, it is more than likely to recur again and again until someone really takes a stand against it.